As I travel a fair bit for work and pleasure I get to enjoy the TSA "Freedom Massage" and the rest of the theater on a fairly frequent basis. At the checkpoint I've seen fairly inconsistent behavior even at the same airport (and while there are some terrible jumped up lunchroom monitors wearing the uniform there are also some great folks manning the front line as well).
Not the main topic of this post, but as I've noted before I opt out for freedom. But when I do I also get to skip the metal detector. If I was really determined to get something sharp passed the pat down I'm sure I could find a way.
The thing that's always worried me is that while passengers go through a lot of rigmarole to get past the cordon these days there's a lot of regular back of house staff who are there every day but are not subject to anything like the same level of security ... what's to stop them bringing in components for a bomb or a weapon over a period of weeks and loading it onto a plane or passing to a traveling accomplice?
Today at SeaTac I was waiting to pick someone up and in the space of 10 minutes I watched not one but four people wave a badge and walk airside at the C/D gate exit door to the concours. Two of them were in suits, but one had an insulated lunchbox. The other two were in jeans, one carrying a rucksack and the other had a carryall and a toolbox.
Sure, these folks have ID and they're probably known to the gate agents. Who's also to say that they've not another unibomber or their wife isn't being held against her will to ensure he delivers a package to someone boarding a NYC-bound flight.
There's a huge amount of tax payers money being spent on extending the powers of the TSA but beyond the visible choke-points ordinary travelling citizens are having to face there doesn't seem to really be an effort made to do the hard job of actually providing real security. As the TSA try to extend their 4th infringing tactics to bus and train stations and highways you have to ask who are they really helping?